Rapibus extension to Lorrain
The Rapibus corridor
Inaugurated in 2013, the Rapibus corridor changed the face of Gatineau and the day-to-day lives of public transit users. At this point, taking the car, unlike taking the bus, is becoming increasingly time-consuming, which year after year enhances the benefits of the Rapibus corridor. By 2031, the population in the eastern part of Gatineau is expected to grow by 30%. This increase will further congest the roads and drive up the demand for public transportation. The benefits of the Rapibus bus rapid transit (BRT) system will become even more evident and appreciated over time.
PHASE 1 of this project consists of a 12 km two-way exclusive bus corridor with 10 stations, two park and rides, and reserved lanes in the downtowns. As shown below, the current Rapibus links boulevard Labrosse and boulevard Alexandre-Taché.
Lorrain station: first infrastructure of the Rapibus' eastward extension
The Lorrain station, located at 115 boulevard Lorrain, is the first of the infrastructures to see the light of day as part of the Rapibus' eastward extension.
This station, which opened on April 27, 2020, features:
- 219 parking spaces, of which six are reserved for people with reduced mobility, and four for expectant mothers;
- 4 bus platforms;
- waiting areas, one of which is closed, heated and protected from inclement weather;
- 2 non-covered supports that can accommodate up to 14 bicycles;
- 2 variable message signs (VMS) indicating in real time the next route 75, 78, 79 or 88 bus; and
- 1 lit sidewalk that is accessible to people with reduced mobility, and that links rue Guigues and its surroundings to the station.
Onto PHASE 2
In December 2019, the ministère de l'Environnement et de la Lutte contre les changements climatiques granted the STO a certificat d'autorisation environnemental, giving it the green light to proceed with PHASE 2 of the Rapibus, which is the design and development of the plans and specifications, as well as the calls for tenders.
The GDR consortium, which consists of WSP and Norda Stelo, is currently developing the plans and specifications for this 2.8 km stretch. This section will run along the existing train tracks, and will connect the Labrosse and Lorrain stations, passing by the future Lac-Beauchamp station. Those plans and specifications will confirm the cost of this important public transit project.
PHASE 2 will include, among other things:
- a 2.8 km two-way reserved bus lane;
- a 2.8 km bicycle path;
- a station providing year-round bus access to parc du Lac-Beauchamp and its many outdoor and recreational activities; and
- two bicycle crossings and one pedestrian crossing in strategic locations within the park.
The photo below illustrates the easternmost and westernmost tips of the section. It gives an idea of what the Rapibus corridor extension might look like. The plans and specifications will provide the final details.
The same four key objectives will apply to this second phase of the Rapibus corridor:
- respond to the increased demand and attract new customers;
- provide a service unfettered by traffic congestion;
- link the commercial, cultural, sport and economic hubs; and
- support Gatineau's land use vision.
The extension of the Rapibus corridor will provide residents east of parc du Lac-Beauchamp better access to the major hubs like the Cégep de l'Outaouais, CLSC, Maison de la culture, Centre sportif, Les Promenades Gatineau and the future four-rink complex.
Compensatory and attenuation measures
Even though the Rapibus corridor's extension through the northern portion of parc du Lac-Beauchamp only represents 0.6% of its total surface area, the STO is still committed to meeting all of the environmental requirements and to applying compensatory measures to attenuate as much as possible the impact of the construction work. To that end, it is working closely with the municipal administration and with Quebec's ministère des Transports, ministère de l'Environnement et de la Lutte contre les changements climatiques, and ministère des Forêts, de la Faune et des Parcs, as well as with Fisheries and Oceans Canada. The STO has also retained the services of JFSA, an environmental consulting firm based in Gatineau.
The following are some of the compensatory measures identified by the partners:
The STO has invested $1.7 M into the Fonds de protection de l'environnement et du domaine hydrique de l'État administered by the ministère de l'Environnement et de la Lutte contre les changements climatiques. That money will be used to fund environmental projects or compensatory measures within Gatineau.
Identifying and relocating small wildlife
In order to prepare the ground for the work that is expected to start in the winter of 2020-2021, by the week of April 27, the future “construction zone” will be temporarily cordoned off from wildlife. Wood stakes and a partially buried membrane will be used to that end.
JFSA biologists will then set out to find, identify, document and relocate outside the delimited zone small species such as:
- western chorus frogs;
- turtles; and
- small mammals.
These species will be relocated to an area not far from the delimited zone to a similar habitat. A pedestrian pathway will be maintained during the exercise. There will be several site visits until December to ensure that the future construction zone is ready and that the great majority of the species have been relocated.
Adapting and designing culverts for the different species
During construction in 2021 and 2022, the STO will increase the diameter of the existing culverts under the train tracks in order to facilitate the movement of the fish. In addition, dry culverts will be integrated into the construction to enable small wildlife to circulate. In total, nine passageways will be available to fish, amphibians, reptiles and small mammals.
Compensating for the loss of fish habitats
The Rapibus corridor will cross wetlands and, inevitably, impact a few fish habitats. To compensate for this, a number of projects have been submitted to Fisheries and Oceans Canada. The project with the greatest ecological value was chosen. It will enable the water coming from the eastern branch of the Wabassee stream to circulate and pass over the existing metal barrier for a greater part of the year. Currently, this barrier only lets the water pass a few weeks of the year, thereby restricting the free passage of fish during several months. The STO is awaiting final authorization for this project.
Introducing barriers to protect the wildlife
The plans and specifications being developed by the GDR consortium will include a concrete Jersey barrier between the train tracks and the Rapibus corridor. A permanent barrier is also planned between the bicycle path and the park. These measures are designed to protect small mammals by preventing them from getting onto the Rapibus corridor or the bicycle path.
The next steps as of now
- Spring and summer 2020:
- preparation of the terrain – Wildlife barrier and field work by the biologists.
- Fall 2020:
- completion of plans and specifications;
- public information sessions; and
- issuance of the call for tenders (general contractor, supervision and quality control of materials).
- Winter 2020-2021:
- tree clearing and start of construction.
- 2021 and 2022:
- construction, and compensatory and attenuation measures.
- Spring 2023:
- opening of the new section.
- Preparation of the terrain in anticipation of the Rapibus extension to Lorrain (in French only);
- Opening of the Lorrain station (in French only);
- Five-year status report on the Rapibus corridor (in French only);
- Government assistance program for public transit - The Government of Quebec announces more than $26 M for completion of the Rapibus (in French only).